Sunday, October 07, 2012

Dog Story

My 18 year old nephew is a natural-born writer.  He's been writing exceptional stories since he was quite young.  Now, he's in his first semester in college and wrote the story below and blew.me.away.  His professor said that the first essay kids hand her during their first year is about the death of a grandparent or a pet.  She said that when she read this story, she sat on her sofa, reading it to her boyfriend, and they both cried. 

(This happened when I was home in August and I'm glad I was there with the family.  If it had happened while I was in Kuwait, I would have been a basket case.  I'm so glad we were all together.)

Alex, I hope you keep writing.  Your talent is too special not to continue.  Love you, boyyyyy.

Rascal

I woke up that morning earlier than most. Summer was coming to and end and it was the week before I was to leave for college. I got up around 7:30; I must have heard my parents already up. As I peaked down stairs I heard no noise, no barking coming from my usually obnoxious dogs and no sign of my parents even though their door was open. As I turned around the corner into the kitchen I’ll never forget how I felt as I looked into the laundry room. I was confused and broken hearted to see my parents huddled around him I had never hurt so much from a bad girlfriend or a lost football game or even a broken bone. But when I saw him lying there I kind have wished I were feeling any other pain.

Eleven years earlier I woke up to a much happier sight. My mom had got me from my room to bring me outside by the garage. I was an eager kid and old for my age so I was expecting big things for my birthday like an apache helicopter to a jet pack or the power rangers; almost anything a seven year old boy could come up with or thought of. However I definitely wasn’t expecting a best friend, let alone two. But there they were two yellow lab puppies so small you could scoop them up with one hand. As I ran over to the crate and rolled around with them as they made their puppy sounds and teethed on whatever part of clothes they could find. I knew right then that it would be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

My mom, being the liberal as she is,  let me name one all by myself, and back then that kind of power was a huge deal. We named the lighter colored one Beau as a family and I decided to name the darker colored one "Rascal" after the movie, “The Little Rascals”;  as it just so happened to be my favorite movie at the time. As the years went on I would soon be very frustrated at my decision because it turned out that Rascal was the least trouble out of all of our dogs. Rascal was obedient; he was playful, but only when one of us initiated the playing. He also turned out to be the smartest and wiser of the bunch. He was nothing like the Little Rascals depicted in movie, sadly. He was timid and didn’t like to swim, which often made me mad. All the other dogs knew how to swim except for him…

I guess if the worst of your problems as a dog father is your dog being obedient and not being a “little Rascal” then I guess you could say that I had minimal problems.

Rascal might have been the fattest dog on the planet. He could chew threw a brick wall if he was hungry enough. After finishing his dinner he would stand by the drawer where he knew the treats were concealed. Even after he had his “post-meal” snack he would then proceed to lick his bowl digging for whatever scraps he could find. All this contributed to how he got his more common name, “Fat Rascal”. Wherever he went in the house he waddled;  he would waddle into the kitchen he would waddle into the den and out the back yard chasing a ball. My mom would always see him coming and say, “Hey, hey, hey here comes Fat Rascal.” Yes he was that fat.

He was a loving dog most of all, he loved his momma (my mother) and boy did he love his dad (my step-father Wayne). He would follow that man into hell if he had to.  Wayne couldn’t go to the bathroom without that big lethargic mutt waddling on after him. Wherever you so Wayne around the house you most likely saw Fat-Rascal waddling alongside.

I never realized how much time I spent with him until I sat down to think about it one day. He was there with me through elementary school; every time I would get off the bus there he was barking his head off in the window waiting for me to come inside. The big guy was with me through all of high school, he even was up late nights coming home from parties or after games.  Rascal and I have been through a whole lot in our lives. I was there when he was sick, feeding him his pills or picking the ticks off of him. He was there for me when I was sad or sick and he was always damn proud to be by my side. Its not often you find a friend like that. I don’t think I ever will again. He was the brother I never had.

Eleven years later and summer was coming to and end and it was the week before I was to leave for college. We were all sitting in the living room watching TV like we did most nights as a family;  my parents and I and our three dogs Beau, Rascal and the newer edition to the family, Lola. Beau and Lola were off doing their own things playing with each and my parents were dozing off. Rascal was surprisingly awake it was really unlike the old guy -lately usually he was either eating or sleeping but not that night. That night he crawled over to me like he used to as a puppy and started hitting me with his paw.

He and I rolled around on the carpet for a good hour that night. I didn’t see it then but I sure see it now. He was loving on me and licking my hands and face like he hadn’t done in a long time. He was just playing, playing like a new puppy. I didn’t think much of it at all; I was too caught up in the moment. Now I see that he might have just been telling me how much he loved me and reminiscing on all the great times we had.  He was saying goodbye.

That night he couldn’t walk down the steps to go outside and use the bathroom. Of course I thought nothing of it; he was an old dog and this was usual. If I could go back I would have played with him all night, I wouldn’t have let him fall asleep, I would have rubbed his big fat belly all night. I would have done a lot of things different if I had known that was the last night ever that he was going to fall asleep for the rest of my life.

I got up around 7:30; I must have heard my parents already up. As I peaked down stairs I heard no noise, no barking coming from my usually obnoxious dogs and no sign of my parents even though their door was open. As I turned around the corner into the kitchen I’ll never forget how I felt as I looked into the laundry room. I was confused and broken hearted to see my parents huddled around him I had never hurt so much from a bad girlfriend or a lost football game or even a broken bone. But when I saw him lying there I kind have wished I were feeling any other pain.

There he was, lying there on the floor, so peaceful, just the way he lies when he naps. This time it was a different nap, I knew this nap was the one that he wouldn’t be waking up from. It was the first time id seen Wayne cry, ever, in all my life. My parents moved away so I could see him. I can still feel the heavy sadness in my head and in my gut like it was yesterday. I saw him lying there and all the times I shared with him kept flashing through my mind. I thought my dogs were invincible, I thought my dogs could never die. As much as I could have prepared for seeing him like that,  nothing could have kept me from feeling the heartache I did.
           
Mom called the vet as Wayne and I wrapped him up in towels and took him to the car. Before they took him to the vets they let me say one last goodbye to him. I held him, crying. His body was cold and hard but he was the same color and had the same face as he did when he slept. I don’t know why I thought he would look different. I thought holding him would feel like he was less real. But sadly it didn’t feel less real at all, he felt like the same little Rascal I was holding last night. I couldn’t think of anything to say so I just kept holding onto him as if it could bring him back. I thought maybe the longer I hold on, the more memories I’ll have with him. When they left to the vet and I was alone, I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in my entire life. It was as if my best friend had died. A best friend I’d watched grow since he was a puppy running around with a ball in his mouth until he was a big wise old dog chewing on a bone. One of the biggest persons in my life had just passed on.

Rascal was my dog. He was my best friend he would do anything for me and I would have done anything for him. I realize now that there are only a few rare people you come across in life that can love you unconditionally and will always have your back no matter what.   You have your mother and your father and then… you have your dog, mans best friend. I know Rascal couldn’t stick around forever; all I can do now is cherish the time I had with him and accept his passing.  Not a day goes by where I don’t think about him or hear someone say in my head, “Hey, hey, hey here comes Fat Rascal.”

8 comments:

American Girl said...

OK, DG, I've read this before getting ready for work and heading to the office. I've been in tears since the first paragraph. Many of us know that unconditional love a pet provides in our life, but few can express it the way your talented nephew did. If he's not studying Journalism, he might want to consider it. Truly expressive and paints a picture with his words. Such a beautiful story written by a young man with an obvious love for animals. Please pass along my condolences on their loss.

Anonymous said...

WOW! What a story, what a writer, crying buckets here, glad the kids and husband left for school. They would think I'm nuts.
Gail

Desert Girl said...

Dear AG and Gail, I am so glad that there are people like you out there who feel the same way I do and aren't afraid to show it! :*

Anonymous said...

Crying like a blithering idiot....

Anonymous said...

Crying! I have been there and it was the summer before college when I lost my yellow lab, Figaro.
What a wonderful stroy, thank you for sharing.

Expat and the City said...

He clearly takes after his Auntie. I'm sending this to my Dad.

Anonymous said...

American girl , said it well. The unconditional love of pets. They have a way of sneaking into your heart and planting roots. I had a cat that got me through difficult times. She died many many years ago but I still mourn.
Gail

Wendy said...

Hi. My kitty cat Squeaker, of 11 years died in her sleep, in her favorite spot in the house, on MY bed in HER bed. I cried and I still cry. I miss her pathetic meow and her rotten nature. She loved to snuggle and be near me. we didnt get to say too much of a goodbye because her bowels were starting to go and she was getting stinky. We buring her in my backyard. I loved her and I can TOTALLY relate to your brother's story. Pets are family. HUGS!!!